James Vacca, NIMBY Accomplice

So we’ve gone through the initial round of coverage and reactions to Wednesday’s bike-share announcement.

Photo: YourNabe

Mixed in with a healthy amount of fairly straightforward reporting, there were the predictable slants. The Brooklyn Paper went in search of controversy. The Post and the Daily News editorial boards fantasized about dismemberment and death. Perpetual Soho crank Sean Sweeney produced perhaps the single most clearly-articulated expression of NIMBYism in his long NIMBY career.

Steve Cuozzo, of course, took the crazy prize for writing about the nefarious link between the city’s bike policy and escalating gun violence. (The Daily News gets the runner-up trophy for the brilliant idea of installing widespread red light cams for bikes.)

But what about the sane community? Someone who has actual civic responsibility. Someone who should ostensibly know about transportation policy and how New York needs to catch up to cities like Washington and Boston, which already have public bike systems up and running. Someone like City Council Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca.

He gave the papers this nugget:

The rubber will only hit the road if DOT is totally committed to working with local neighborhoods and Council Members in the siting and implementation of Bike-Share, because these stations are going to take up valuable real estate on our public streets and sidewalks.

Classic Vacca. The same day DOT comes out and says in no uncertain terms that they’re going to embark on an extensive round of public workshops to determine where bike-share stations will go, he chides them about public process.

It’s the same MO he’s used throughout his tenure as transportation chair. Remember the op-ed he penned for City Hall News last summer — the one where he said the Prospect Park West bike lane was “built over the objection of local residents,” forgetting to mention that it was, in fact, inspired by public workshops and approved by the local community board? His views haven’t evolved since then. To Vacca, the transportation benefits of bike policy and the public support for that policy never bear mentioning. Only the complainers do.

One of the interesting things about bike-share is that it’s so big, many, many New Yorkers can see themselves using it. Streetsblog wasn’t the only news outlet that found most people on the street eager to use the system once it’s up and running. Bike-share is going to make cycling accessible to a whole new range of people who live, work, and visit here. When anyone can hop on a public bike with the swipe of a card, bikes will be just another transportation tool for hundreds of thousands of people.

Does James Vacca really want to stand between them and a better way to get around town?